Words of Wisdom from Jazz Composer Maria Schneider

During the summer of 1983 I attended a 6-week program at the Eastman School of Music for arranging and jazz improvisation. I took an arranging class from the great Bill Dobbins and an improvisation class from Ray Ricker. It was a terrific summer. I spent days in class, and practicing many hours, and then I spent my nights arranging charts and copying parts (Yes, we did it by hand. NO Finale back then!)

It was this time that I first heard of the name Maria Schneider. She was attending the “Arranger’s Holiday” portion of the summer at Eastman. (The Arranger’s Holiday was for experienced arrangers).

Although I had heard of Maria Schneider, it was not until a few years later that I heard her first CD of big band compositions. To be honest, the music blew me away. It was so far from the way I viewed a big band (and still is!), it was totally a breath of fresh air. Maria changed the way a big band sounded, but it wasn’t “weird” in any way. Her ability to tell a story via the big band in a totally fresh and unique way is as good as it gets.

Maria is not a “straight ahead” jazz composer per se, but unlike many more modern composers I’ve heard over the last few decades, Maria’s music always has an aspect of telling a story. Her charts are never boring and they always move from one logical point to another. You’ll have to listen to her stuff to really know what I mean.

Anyway, I found some great words of wisdom on Youtube by Maria and thought it would be a good idea to post them here for you to enjoy and learn from her view of music and arranging and composing.

Enjoy!

Interview with Maria Schneider

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How do you overcome writer’s block as a jazz composer?

 

How do you begin composing a piece of music?

 

What advice would you give a young jazz composer starting out today?

 

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